We landed on time at Jodhpur. The 135-minute flight was not tiring as such but the hot Jodhpur weather made me sweat and feel exhausted as I walked from the aircraft to the terminal building. We freshened up a bit at the airport, collected our bags, and walked outside the terminal gate where a young taxi driver was waiting for us to chauffeur us to our destination, Bikaner.
As he was driving through the roads of Jodhpur, my wife, being curious to learn about the life and culture of the people in Rajasthan, was asking him many questions from the colour of the stones to the crops they grow in the desert. He was enthusiastically helping her to understand the culture as I dozed off in the comfort of the AC car.
We took a break at a restaurant that served Rajsthani tea/ chai in earthen pots. It was a refreshing break. And soon we were back on the road and my wife continued her conversation with our young chauffeur, who was happily answering all her questions.
At one point she began asking about the religion and castes of the people and the young man paused for a moment and said "Mam, we went to a restaurant a few minutes back, and we really enjoyed the tea. That experience was so good, because we never asked anyone if the person who prepared the tea was a Rajput or a scheduled caste, nor we knew if he was a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, or Christian. We took the tea and enjoyed it. By asking the question, who prepared this tea? We wouldn't have enjoyed the tea as much"
My ears straightened as I listened to the wisdom of this young man. " For us, it was our need to take a cup of tea, and our need was satisfied"
That got me thinking about what is happening in India, my country, where people are spreading hatred in the name of caste and religion. In fact, exactly four days later, I read about the religious-based killing that happened on Mumbai - Jaipur train, and in Gurgaon where a young Muslim clergy was burnt alive. Manipur the fight between the two castes & religions is still taking a big toll.
Are we losing the sensitivity of a human being to recognize the other human being? Here the wisdom of the taxi driver is really appreciable. If we apply this, restaurant metaphor to life we will be able to live and let live.
I remember the exact words he used in Hindi,
"Main chai se mathlab rakhta hun, chai banane wale se nahin" ( I pay attention/ give importance to the tea and not the one who prepared it)
If we apply this wisdom, probably there will not be hatred between humans. Then everyone will have the freedom to practice their rituals or religion. We not only will be able to respect each other but we will be able to find good in others as well. This will make our mind free and that freedom will be real freedom, where the mind will be without fear. Where people will coexist appreciating good in the other's culture or caste or religion.
We are celebrating our Independence Day on August 15, and let us contribute a bit to make the people of this great nation INDIA experience the real freedom
A prayer sprang up in my mind as the car stopped at our destination "Lord our God towards that freedom let my country awake"